Ohio Obituary Index

Brought to you by

Rutherford B. Hayes

Presidential Library & Museums

Become a Partner in the Ohio Obituary Index


The Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums (HPLM) has created an online resource that allows people to use the internet to find their ancestor’s obituary and then either send for it or visit the library. The Ohio Obituary Index (www.rbhayes.org/index) is rooted in library cooperation, receiving the financial help of nearby public libraries for the development of the program in 1999 and grants from Northwest Ohio Library District (NORWELD) and LSTA to add more libraries from 2003-2009. It includes over 60 libraries extending from Northwest Ohio to the whole state, from Defiance to Marietta. View our partner libraries here.

We offer the program to any library in Ohio. If your library joined, it would publicize your holdings, expand the coverage of the index, link your holdings with HPLM’s holdings and provide more data to the public. You would share in and add to a resource which currently has over 3,700,000 indexed names and indexed sources (obituaries, marriages, wills, estates), a proven track record, and an established web presence. The web site won the 2003 Technology Excellence Award given by the New England Historic Genealogical Society. In 2010, our data was duplicated on Ancestry.com and our web presence increased exponentially. Once an ancestor is found on Ancestry the user is directed to our website where they then find out how to order the obit. In 2011, our data was also duplicated on Archives.com which also increased our exposure and orders. In 2014, FindMyPast.com added our data to their collections.

Each library pays a one-time fee of $1500 charged by HPLM to become part of the network. After the first year, the libraries would only be required to pay the $300 fee for web site maintenance and phone and email support for the inputting staff.

To help finance the one-time fee, many partner libraries have received financial help from local genealogical or historical societies, special bequests from individuals for historical/genealogical purposes or other donations which require a specific project.

Participating libraries will provide:

  • Staff or trained volunteers to input current obituaries and/or older files of obits. Inputters will be given user names and passwords so they can access the web-based database;
  • Names of newspapers they will be indexing, which will be given codes for inputting by HPLM;
  • Financial support to help the Hayes Library continue this free-to-the-public online service.

HPLM will provide:

  • Access to the online obituary database;
  • Training sessions for the new inputting staff (about 2 hours) at HPLM, showing how to input obits.
  • Technical support for new inputters to assure quality control and standardized data;
  • Forms which can be modified for use in indexing obits;
  • Guest passes and tours for each trainee to the Hayes Home, Museum and Library which has extensive holdings in nineteenth century historical material, including the Civil War, U.S. presidency, genealogy and Ohio local history

If your library has an existing computer file of obituaries, our website host will examine your file and give you a quote for the cost to merge your data into the Obit Index. Contact information will be provided if you are interested in this service.

The online obituary index has greatly expanded access to the partner libraries’ collections. Once internet users find what we have here at Hayes, they either order the obituaries (over 50,000 since 2000) or plan a trip here. The obituary index piques their interest; then they discover we have much more than just newspaper obituaries, e.g. books, manuscripts, census records, etc. Other libraries have found a similar substantial upswing in usage of their collections. Libraries can charge whatever they like to fulfill obituary orders which will create a new revenue stream.

On a closing note, let one user of the Ohio Obituary Index speak for us:

“Your online obituary index is a real model for other libraries and collections, providing access to references that would have been extremely difficult to research before, and easy access to copies, all from the researcher’s living room. I have never seen one as thorough or as easy to use” Dave Davisson, Columbus, OH.

For further information on becoming a partner in the Ohio Obituary Index, contact


John Ransom
Head Librarian
Hayes Presidential Library & Museums
Spiegel Grove
Fremont, OH 43420 


[email protected]